Celebrating 10 years of service at Overlook Medical Center’s Union satellite campus
What a difference a decade makes. In 2007, when word circulated that another health care system in the region would close the doors of Union Hospital, there was concern among people in the communities it served. Where would they go for easy access to care? How would their needs be met?
Local legislators began to intervene, looking for a solution to the problem. Overlook Medical Center rose to accept the challenge to open a satellite emergency department.
A ‘Flick of a Switch’
“We wanted to do right by the community,” says Sharon Kelly, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, manager of Overlook Emergency Services, Summit and Union campuses. “We had just six weeks to figure out what to do and how we would do it. We adopted the same standards to ensure the same quality patient care as at Overlook's Summit ED. It was key that our Union nurses be trained in the same competencies as our Summit nurses.”
Also key was getting the word out about the new Overlook satellite campus, particularly to local EMS squads. “The satellite concept was new,” acknowledges Louis Faraone, MSN, RN, CEN, NRP, former coordinator of Emergency Services at the Union campus and now manager, Chilton Emergency Department. “Squads had concerns. They would tell us that they preferred to take patients to acute care hospitals, and we had to educate them about all that we could do, since we were affiliated with the acute care services in Overlook’s Summit ED. We were raising the standard of care in Union.”
On September 30, 2007, at 11:59pm, Union Hospital as it had been known was no longer. At midnight on October 1, it became Overlook’s Union satellite campus. “It was like a flick of a switch,” John Tyrrell, DO, recalls of that moment. Dr. Tyrrell had been the director of Union Hospital and, along with a few others, decided to make the transition to Overlook.
10 Years Later
When Overlook agreed to take over at Union Hospital, says Dr. Tyrrell, it was with the stipulation that it would be just for a year, “to give it a try and see what happens.” But what happened, of course, is that the Union campus caught on and took hold, becoming an example of all that a satellite ED could be. “We went from seeing 19,000 patients in our first year to 20,000 in our second year, and then jumped to 25,000,” he says. This year, the Union ED is projected to see more than 40,000 patients.
Today, the Union satellite campus is a nationally recognized, award-winning, 24-bed, full-service ED, inclusive of on-site laboratory and radiology services. The campus also houses a state-of-the-art wound healing center. In addition, patients can visit the Union campus for cardiovascular care (including cardiac imaging), comprehensive stroke care and physical therapy.
MaryPat Sullivan, RN, MSN, CNS, chief nursing officer for Overlook Medical Center, reports that “door to doc” wait times in the Union ED are among the lowest in the state, and standards of care are high. “We provide necessary emergency health care and outpatient services to the community, right in patients’ own backyard,” she says. This, she notes, also improves public safety, as EMS squads are able to keep their ambulances and personnel closer to home. When Overlook patients at the Union campus require higher levels of care, transfer to the main Summit campus is seamless with dedicated emergency transportation.
Adds Faraone, “We’ve been able to do a lot of good in the community. We came in and turned things around. We take good care of people.”